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Letter of Reflection

Dear Professor Myers and fellow classmates,

From day one just four short months ago, this class has intrigued me. On that warm August morning, our very first class discussion on convention stemmed from our introductions. Because you gave us no guidelines, the class naturally followed the convention set by the first few people to speak. I feel as though that very activity set the tone for the class: fifteen young adults working together to face the challenges of college writing.

In reading Henrietta Lacks, taking quizzes on articles about everything from science journalism to panda feces, and updating the blog, I wasn’t too surprised at the way the course was going. I had come in expecting an extension of AP English and it seemed more or less to be just that. As weeks flew by and weather grew chillier, the class underwent a sort of change in my eyes. I no longer approached it as novel-reading and grammar-filled class that met twice a week. Instead, it became more of a unique first year academic experience. Each meeting offered new insight into my personal writing process as I began to develop skills I didn’t even know existed. Writing truly became a craft as I tweaked essays and searched for hours for the perfect word to explain what I meant.

What I take away the most from this class, as I’m sure my peers would agree, is my new understanding of the crucial relationship between writing and revision. Prior to UW20, I did know that revision was necessary to produce quality writing. What I didn’t know, however, was the immense importance placed on revision in the writing process. I hadn’t realized that from start to finish, a final draft would be about 75-80% of a revision of the first. While this expectation shocked me, I soon understood its meaning as I worked tirelessly to perfect drafts of both essays 1 and 2 as well as the final project.

At the beginning of the semester, I saw myself as a strong writer. I knew I could produce fifteen page critical research papers in perfect MLA format with primary and secondary sources to back my firm claims. After reading the prompt for essay 1, my perception completely changed. An associative, segmented…. and I was lost. All the quotations in the world couldn’t help me with this one. I had to rely on my creativity to drive my writing process for the essay. After many visits to the writing center and over half a dozen revisions, I finally produced a paper I felt was suitable to turn in.

Essay 2 offered me a new way of thinking about a source. I utilized BEAM as I decided on which source to analyze and eventually settled on one that outlined a case study between scientists and journalists. It took me four revisions of my paper to realize one crucial fact: there is a clear difference between a source that I may not have seen before and one that is unique in general. After making that distinction clear in my most recent draft, I am confident that essay 2 is indeed one of my strongest pieces of writing to date.

In the future, I will definitely be utilizing a myriad of skills I have learned and developed in UW. Some of these skills include BEAM, the writing process (namely revising), and most applicable to other classes, the ability to properly research and find scholarly sources. I now feel like I understand what a scholarly question is: one that brings up an academic issue(s) that can be answered through research and analysis of scholarly sources. We interacted greatly with scholarly questions and sources as we completed the essay 2 assignment and more prominently during the research process of the final project. Regarding the aforementioned research, Tina and our library sessions were immensely helpful as we explored proper information gathering methods. Without a doubt, I will apply these skills to any writing assignment I will have over the next for years of my college career and beyond.

Something I grew to appreciate about this class was the blog. Not only was it the very reason we could sleep for an extra hour on Friday mornings, but it also allowed us an open forum to discuss science issues as we pleased. The blog is essentially what tied together science, media, and culture as we journeyed through the course. With few regulations on what was acceptable, we soon surpassed Professor’s expectations by posting and elaborating on issues in a highly advanced manner. I’m proud of us! It is the fruits of our labor in UW20 and I definitely cherish all the knowledge I gained from it.

Reflecting on my time in this class, I think about how I have grown as a reader, writer, and college student.  I have gleaned skills that I am sure will support my future at GW and beyond. For that, I am incredibly grateful for all that this class, Professor Myers, and my fellow classmates have offered me this past semester in the experience that was UW20.

With that I want to end by saying, have an amazing holiday season and a successful spring semester!


Megan Shah

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